I noticed that Amazon have lumped the reviews of all the editions of this documentary together, so you can't really tell the difference between the standard DVD release, the two disc Blu-ray edition or this. So, as the title states, this is specifically a review of the single disc Blu-ray release.
As the technical details at the top state, the single disc contains all four episodes , so total length is just short of four hours. The audio is English Stereo Dolby Digital and the video format is 1080i/16:9. It is not 24P or anything like that. There are subtitles in English, for the hard of hearing. That's it. So it is pretty much standard BBC Blu-ray format; say, the same as Ancient Worlds (Blu-ray)
(although, with six episodes, that came on two discs).
The quality is good. It is very good. Many of the scenes are, even after multiple viewings, stunning. But really, it is no better than watching the series broadcast on one of the BBC's High Definition channels. And, again like Richard Miles' 'Ancient Worlds', there are no extras, no 'making of' mini-docs so often seen at the end of BBC natural history programmes.
I'm still happy to have it. This is a documentary series that I have watched half a dozen times already and I am quite sure I will watch it many, many more times. The photography and photographic effects such as the moody vignetting are, as I have already said, brilliant. Brian Cox's presentation is infectiously enthusiastic, the computer generated images really imaginative and quite stunning and the accompanying music very effective. I remember that there was criticism of the music at the time of broadcast, but I find some of the more 'rock-oriented' backing music highly effective, really adding to the impact of the visuals.
So - it is a wonderful documentary series. This Blu-ray edition, though, is simply a good, straight-forward copy of the broadcast series; no extras, no features, no special sound. Frankly, it doesn't need it.
Talking of the scenery; yes, some do border on visual hyperbole. The opening shots of the good professor perched perilously atop a mountain reminded me very much of an edition of Thus Spoke Zarathustra
- our Brian as Superman? I have to say, he doesn't look very comfortable standing there. Using the demolition of a derelict prison in some South American city to demonstrate the creation of the heavier elements in dying suns seemed just a little OTT but, on the other hand, the shots of decaying diamond mining towns in Namibia were both beautiful and apposite.
Still - this series is called 'Wonders...' - that is the crucial word - "wonders'. Professor Cox explicitly states that he was hugely influenced by Carl Sagan and his Cosmos
TV series/book. Cox even restates Sagan's famous (and, in my opinion, beautiful) quote "We are the way the universe knows itself". This is the way this programme should be approached. Brian Cox has been criticised for supposedly 'dumbing-down' the science - in one episode, he says "Now, I wouldn't normally show you a graph, but this one..." Why wouldn't you normally show us a graph Professor Cox? Because that is NOT what this series is about. This series is, to restate yet again, about the Wonder of the Universe, about that sense of awe that we all feel just looking up into the night sky.